Reclaiming the public domain

Larry Lessig is trying to push a very simple, yet attractive idea:

We have launched a petition to build support for the Public Domain Enhancement Act. That act would require American copyright holders to pay $1 fifty years after a work was published. If they pay the $1, the copyright continues. If they don’t, the work passes into the public domain. Historical estimates would suggest 98% of works would pass into the public domain after 50 years. The Act would do a great deal to reclaim a public domain.

This is really a very brilliant idea - it would solve a lot of problems related to copyright extension, and yet would keep the most lucrative brands (Mickey Mouse anyone?) with the corporations that want them so much.

Obviously, there will be a lot of practical issues to solve before this proposal becomes reality. But it does look good enough.


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